Perforated soil system

Van den Tweel and Schalk (1981) described an apparatus in which the growth and architecture of root systems can be examined in a soil system without excavation of the root system. Bosch (1984) extended

Foam Insert

Plastic pot

Quartz sand or soil

Saucer

Nutrient solution Cotton wick

Fig.19. Plastic pot system described by Mullette (1976) for ectomycorrhiza synthesis.

Foam Insert

Plastic pot

Quartz sand or soil

Saucer

Nutrient solution Cotton wick

Fig.19. Plastic pot system described by Mullette (1976) for ectomycorrhiza synthesis.

these initial studies in a competition study between Chamaenerion angustifolia and Quercus robur. Limonard and Smits (1984) have used this apparatus (illustrated in Fig. 20) to study mycorrhiza development. The apparatus consists of boxes through which holes less than 15 mm diameter are drilled though the front and back plates. After the box is filled with soil of reasonable cohesive properties, a small tube is pushed through the holes, and then removed, to provide open channels along which roots can develop. The boxes are kept moist and in the dark for best root development. Subsequent to planting a seedling in the box, roots can be examined in situ by the use of an intrascope directly or interfaced with a TV monitor. Small samples can be taken from the root system by long biopsy forceps. The root boxes and ancillary equipment are available from Mechalectron International B.V., PO Box 2800, BE Eonda, The Netherlands, or can be constructed.

Fig. 20. Perforated soil system for growing root systems under natural conditions. Drawing is based on that found in Limonard and Smits (1984).

1. Advantages

Root systems can be examined in situ under conditions simulating those found in the field and portions of the root system can be removed for further study without excavating the entire root system. Undisturbed profiles of soil from the field can be placed in the boxes so that effects of various soil parameters on root growth can be examined.

2. Disadvantages

The main disadvantages are the cost if units are purchased and the time involved to construct the units.

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